Friday, April 29, 2011

New Korean Dating Site a Big Hit

A new Korean dating site has proved to be a big hit after offering a service which bridges the gap between two of the most popular activities among males in Korea, dating women and beating them. Describing itself as 'Part Romance, Part Fight Club', the new site - which asked not to be named because it markets itself slightly differently to women - allows them to meet up for blind dates with the possibility of returning home blind afterward.

Some women's groups have reacted angrily to the launch of the new site, but its owner was unapologetic "My girlfriends never seemed to mind a little casual physical violence, that's what makes people like me real men." But he is also angry that the media has run stories on specific acts of violence that his members have engaged in. "The first rule of violence against women," he told us, "is that nobody talks about violence against women."

Not all the violence is physical. In a possible sign that Korea is becoming a more progressive society, a 2009 survey revealed that only 25% of 800 women said they had been sexually assaulted or raped by their date, with 61% instead suffering verbal violence such as threats to kill, and 80% only what is classed as stalking or 'emotional violence', such as the monitoring of their emails, blogs, mobile phones and private schedules.

One member of the site, who claims to be 35 years old and gave his name as 'Lee', explained how he regularly followed his girlfriends around and went through their trash to look for evidence that they were seeing other men, but he rejected the idea that this was emotional violence or stalking. "It's not stalking, it's following. There's no law against that."

Like many men engaging in the time-honored Confucian tradition of treating women like second class citizens, 'Lee' is confused by the mixed messages society is sending out. "I was beaten by my parents, I was beaten by my teachers in school, I was bullied and hazed at university by my seniors, and then I was regularly beaten and tortured by my commanding officers during my military service. And through it all we were raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and k-drama gods, and k-pop stars. But we won't. So now I've been through all that for nothing why can't I just relieve some of the stress by beating a woman in return without it being seen as wrong?"

Lee points out that aside from the culture of violence that was beaten into him during his youth, school textbooks also provided the academic justification for sexual violence against women, who are portrayed as being blamed for it according to a report by the Ministry of Gender Inequality and Family Affairs that was quietly released over the last Christmas holiday period. It is believed the textbooks, which tell women that sexual violence is natural for men and women are responsible for it, help to perpetuate an acceptance of rape and other gender-based abuse which they will in turn pass on to their children.

Despite often being accused of fostering a culture of violence to support national homogeneity and defense, the government has said it wants to tackle the issue of sexual violence against women with the creation of a 'Scarlet Letters' database, in which victims have to tell their stories in order to receive assistance and compensation. A government source, who is also a member of the controversial dating site, said that he thought that the Scarlet Letters were going to be a big hit, because "they are full of good ideas and really get my adrenalin pumping. Then you go out and beat a woman, and it makes you feel alive."

Related Links
'Dating violence' going unchecked
Four charged with rape of hagwon teacher
School textbooks full of gender-biased content
Sexual violence victims' info mandatory for gov't assistance: Scarlet letters
Crimes up but arrests down in 2010
More than 35 percent of adult women fear sexual violence
Domestic abuse rose in 2010
Children unprotected from domestic violence
School violence cases increase
Dark side of music schools
Police crack down on wild graduation parties
Violent school hazing case turned over to prosecutors
Dongguk Univ. marred by student violence
Junior marines fall victim to abuse
South Korean Private Kills 8 Soldiers After Being Hazed
Alleged shooting accomplice arrested
Watchdog probes cases of abuse in riot police
5 police officers get jail for torture
6 students booked for assault
I was slapped at prosecution office: suicide note
Migrant wives remain defenseless
Assaults against emergency staff on rise over past 5 years

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shock as 'Multicultural Society' Leads to More 'Non-Korean Behavior'

The Government Central Statistics Office released figures yesterday showing the incidences of 'non-Korean behavior' recorded within the country have jumped from 1.8% in 2005 to almost 4% in 2010. Many people are shocked by the figures, "I'm a little worried", said Kim, a 24-year-old shop worker in Seoul.

Dealing with the growing influx of foreign professionals from Western nations, manual workers and mail-order slave wives purchased through 'introduction agencies' from Asia, the Government has recognized that Korea is slowly turning into a 'multicultural society', a fact compounded by low Korean birthrates and cross-breeding which are expected to start to lower the number of pure-blooded Koreans by 2015.

There had been an expectation within Government that non-Koreans would adopt a Korean way of life, but that this would still represent a multicultural society since they would never be treated like Koreans. However, as immigrants have settled into new lives, they have been slow to see the superior advantages of the Korean life, and there is even evidence that they have kept practicing strange foreign religions and other odd habits. In some cases, Korean women who married Western men who chose to stay in Korea, have even been known to question whether the Korean way of doing things is better than a foreign way.

Professor Kim, an expert on Demographics said that he expected the number of crimes committed in Korea to double by 2020. Reports of sexual assaults are also on the rise.

While largely underground, rumors persist that foreigners have formed private groups where they openly criticize Korean society without the threat of corporate lawsuits, visa cancellation and attacks from Korean netizens who are secretly tasked by the Government with maintaining social order. Politicians are worried that if such foreigners become more outspoken and are allowed to actively participate in Korean politics, rather than only being allowed to vote in limited circumstances but not campaign, foreign ideas may start to be aired on the democratic stage where one senior politician said "anything could happen." There is general agreement among politicians that if foreign ideas start to influence Korean politics, it would clearly be highly undemocratic.

The Statistics Office will continue monitoring the situation, but it's unclear what politicians can do if the figures keep rising. "We may just have to stop collecting the statistics", admitted one employee.

Related Links
Migrant voters’ alliance faces legal challenges
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Making sense of Korea's multicultural policy
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Policing across cultures in the multicultural era
Foreigners' Crimes Rise Significantly
Data says it all: E-2s are law abiding

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Collection of Political DNA Samplings Draws Protest

The government has denounced moves by prostitutes in Seoul to collect the DNA samples of politicians who have not maintained secret payments to them. The criticism came following the announcement that genetic material from six politicians had already been used to establish a DNA database to guarantee future financial support.

"By unnecessarily expanding their activities from the receipt of DNA to the keeping of it, they are treating politicians like murderers and rapists." complained one of the politicians. However, rather than deny the criticism the prostitutes have suggested that this may be appropriate, although they declined to elaborate further.

"They are trying to mar politicians with a stigma just because they are participating in a fight for their survival." said another elected representative, 61 year-old Kim, who asked us not to use his real name. "In politics, it is sometimes unavoidable to be involved with prostitutes and it should be viewed differently from paying for sex in other situations."

The move by the prostitutes follows the passing of a law last year allowing the creation of DNA databases for the first time. It was originally intended to enable the collection of DNA from trades union members and other dubious individuals who don't vote for the ruling Grand National Party, but now it appears to have backfired.

Researchers had been hoping to use the DNA in order to identify the common genetic abnormality which it is theorized leads to deviant behavior such as collective bargaining. However, doubts were raised over whether such acts were limited to unionized chaebol employees, given the constant factional horse-trading which takes place among politicians in the National Assembly.

Despite this, the research continued in the hope that once a common genetic abnormality was identified, it would be possible to create a gene-based vaccine for children that would ensure they grew up without fear of developing such cancerous socialist traits.

Related Links
Collection of unionist DNA samplings draws protest
Lawmaker’s 'sex' scandal comes back to haunt him
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

'Japan Now Bigger Threat Than North Korea'

Old frigates to be kept for target practice
The South Korean government has decided to deploy its newest navy frigates to Dokdo, in a clear sign that a Japanese attack is now considered more likely on than one from North Korea, which the ships had originally been designed to counter.

The Navy is scheduled to receive the first batch of 2,300-2,500 ton frigates next year from Hyundai Heavy Industries, under a naval buildup project code-named "FFS". By 2018, a total of 20 new 'FFS' frigates will be put into service for anti-air and anti-submarine duties.

"In the wake of Japan's renewed claim to Dokdo, the waters of Ulleung Island and Dokdo could be threatened," a government source said yesterday. "As security threats in the East Sea take shape, there is a need to deploy the new frigates to Ulleung Island."

It is thought that Japan, which lost control of Korea in 1945 and now regards it as a rogue province, will attack from the Korean island of Daemado, which is still occupied by Japan, having been illegally annexed by the Japanese after South Korea's Joseon Dynasty first legitimately annexed the island in 1419. They are then likely to attack Korea's Ulleung Island, before landing their main invasion force near Busan in order to secure a mainland port, ensuring that supply lines are maintained for their assault on the capital, Seoul.

South Korea's fleet of aging Cheonan-class frigates will now not be retired, but instead will continue patrolling the seas bordering North Korean waters. The sinking of the Cheonan in a surprise submarine attack last year demonstrated the need for the new FFS-class frigates, which are being equipped with state-of-the-art anti-ship missiles and anti-submarine weapon systems, designed to counter the North Korean military threat. However, a senior government minister, speaking off the record, told journalists yesterday that "the government is now convinced the threat of a Japanese attack is greater, and we have received assurances from the North Korean leadership that they will not attack if we deploy our best military assets to Dokdo to defend against the Japanese, while leaving our northern borders less strongly defended."

There have been growing calls to strengthen military capabilities near Dokdo in recent weeks. Since the 1950s, only a small number of police officers have been placed on the islands to mark South Korea's rightful ownership. However, the government is reluctant to replace them with military personnel, since this would formally lead to the United Nations designating Dokdo, which they wrongly regard as 'disputed territory', as instead formally 'occupied' by a foreign army. This designation may lead to formal proceedings at the U.N. or in the international courts, as such so-called 'annexations' are illegal under international law. Under current rules – which some have wrongly described as a loophole South Korea has exploited – the placing of civilians, including police, on the island, is not technically classed as an annexation.

Related Links
Korea considers deploying new frigates near Dokdo
Navy to beef up military presence near Dokdo
Wikipedia: Daemado
Facebook: Daemado Belongs to Korea
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Tsushima rejects claim isles belong to S. Korea
Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs - Tokdo or Takeshima? (PDF)
Future Frigate eXperimental

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Korean Credit Agency Gives Korea Top Credit Rating

During the 2008 Credit Crunch and subsequent financial crisis, which claimed such high profile victims as Lehman Brothers, international credit rating agencies were criticized for failing to understand the mortgage-related financial products and countries they were assigning ratings to. High ratings led to the belief that the products and countries those ratings were assigned to were safe, and when they turned out not to be the financial markets collapsed, leading to calls for the stranglehold of the big three agencies - America's Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings, to be broken.

Now an independent Korean credit rating agency as been created, which it is hoped will soon challenge the 'big three', giving the world a more trustworthy alternative. In its opening publication, the new NICE Investors Service, which immediately sounds friendlier than the threatening titles of the other ratings agencies, has issued its own nationally-based credit ratings, and the results highlight the continued failures of its rivals.

According to NICE, South Korea is the most credit-worthy - or financially trustworthy - country, achieving a so-called 'AA' rating, compared to Moody's 'A1', S&P's 'A', and Fitch's 'A+'. This means that Korea's rating is really two notches higher than the big three agencies have incorrectly been assigning to it, and it appears to confirm the long-standing belief that the the American ratings agencies have been deliberately exaggerating the political and economic risks facing South Korea in order to try and keep this country from becoming a great and prosperous nation by 2012 as promised by politicians in Seoul.

"Moody's sees Korea's geopolitical situation on par with [the risk in] Israel, but the risk here is less than with Israel" said Kim, the director of NICE, who's age is unknown. 56 year-old Professor Kim from Korea International University, a specialist in global economic risk and the writer of next year's globally successful book "Learn from the Superior Korean Economy", said that political risk was often used as an excuse by foreigners, but it was not borne out by the facts. "Last year South Korea suffered two attacks - where we lost a ship and an island - but Israel suffered many attacks. Also, although we don't really get on with either China and Japan, officially there is only one enemy directly to the north, whereas Israel has enemies next to it in the north and south-west. And while South Korea is threatened by a nuclear-armed neighbor, we roughly know how many bombs North Korea has - whereas Israel is threatened by nearby Iran, and nobody knows how many nuclear bombs they have."

Professor Kim also says that the collapse of several Korean banks last month, which was caused by enormous levels of lending to property companies, in what some overseas financial experts have termed 'a massive financial pyramid scheme which threatens to collapse taking the whole Korean economy with it', has been misunderstood. "It will probably be OK in the end." he told us.

But any hopes that the new Korean rating agency would earn the respect and credibility it clearly deserves for uncovering the anti-Korean conspiracy propagated by the other rating agencies have been dashed, with its much higher rating of Korea causing open derision in the global financial community, where NICE's ratings announcement has gone viral via email under the title 'South Korea rates itself very highly'.

However, some foreign economic experts welcomed NICE's ratings. The head of research at one major Wall Street investment bank - who had to remain anonymous for commercial reasons – said "I think this is good research. We've always known that Korea rated itself much more highly than everyone else - but now for the first time we actually know how much higher - two notches."

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Late-2000s financial crisis
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Credit agencies under fire

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Rain is World's Most Influential Person Again

Under the influence
Korean pop start and actor Rain has topped the latest Time Poll 100, in which readers of Time Magazine vote for who they think are the world's most influential people, surprising many non-Koreans who have never heard of him.

Rain received 406,252 votes in the online poll, achieving the No. 1 position among 203 candidates according to Time. He was previously placed first in 2006 and 2007. The success is seen as a major victory for the Ministry of Culture, which had staff working all night before the poll closed clicking voting buttons on the Time website.

Rain's victory once again demonstrates the continued strength of the Korean Wave and the superiority of Korean culture. It also shows how Korean pop stars have become more globally influential than the traditional kind of leaders who many foreigners mistakenly follow, such as U.S. President Barack Obama, who was only ranked 46th in the poll, sixteen places behind his wife.

Rain's supporters are urging him to use his position as the world's most influential person to solve the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which President Obama - with his lesser influence - has failed to do despite repeated attempts. "I'm sure if Rain plays a concert in Jerusalem, Jews and Arabs will join together in their love of Korean pop music and people, and forget their political differences." one fan told us.

But both the Israelis and Palestinians are said to be unenthusiastic about the idea of a Jerusalem concert, fearing it may eventually result in a Korean territorial claim to the city.

Related Links
Rain Rank 1st on Time Poll 100 Again
Korean Pop Star Rain Wins TIME 100 Poll — Again

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Simulated Nuclear Plant Attack Turns Real

A simulated attack on a South Korean nuclear reactor turned real this week when soldiers posing as North Koreans refused to end hostilities unless massive quantities of food were delivered to the plant.

The attack on Busan's perfectly-safe Gori nuclear facility, which sits on a street in the city's suburbs between a branch of Kimbab Nara and an oncology hospital, was meant to show how South Korean authorities would respond to an assault by North Korean agents. While the military didn't reveal the results of the exercise, citing the need for secrecy, it is believed that the 'North Koreans' easily took control of the facility while South Korean troops - who had responded to the initial alarm - remained stuck in the city's notorious traffic.

The previous evening the perfectly-safe Gori-1 reactor - Korea's oldest - was forced to shut down when a loud electrical issue damaged the plant's circuit breaker. In an apparent admission that similar problems could easily occur, state-owned Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power said in a statement that "The accident was in only one of numerous external electrical systems".

The government has asked the media to downplay the nature of the incident, discouraging the use of the term 'accident' in favor of 'malfunction' or 'happening', although it appears that the state-owned company has yet to receive the memo. The Seoul-based media were also asked to refrain from reporting on the simulated nuclear plant attack, but due to its location The Dokdo Times falls outside the scope of the government's tough reporting restrictions.

The happening at the perfectly-safe Gori nuclear plant came only hours before the simulated attack, but authorities have denied there is any connection between the two. Soldiers occupying the plant, who military officials said simply became overheated with enthusiasm, agreed to leave when food was delivered, and on condition that further talks would be held to discuss the denuclearization on the peninsula.

However, despite its promise of talks, the South Korean government is not thought to be serious about denuclearization. The perfectly-safe 33 year-old Gori-1 reactor was closed in 2007 when it reached the end of its guaranteed design life, but a year later Seoul once again adopted a more belligerent stance when it suddenly re-opened the plant and defiantly threatened to keep it operating until 2017.

In other evidence that South Korea isn't serious about its stated desire to see a 'nuclear-free peninsula', recent wiki leaks suggest that there are plans to build eleven more reactors, joining the twenty-five which South Korea is already believed to possess. Experts say that this gives Seoul the ability to devastate the peninsula several times over.

Because of its location overlooking the East Sea, it was previously believed that any accident at the perfectly-safe aging Gori-1 reactor would spread fallout over Japan rather than Korea. But westerly winds from Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear happening have shown that there may be some unexpected downsides, which have alarmed some in Korea's second-class city of Busan who live near the perfectly-safe nuclear facility. "This reactor is located just 20 kilometers from Haeundae Beach. An accident would cause an unimaginable disaster." wrote the left-wing Hankyoreh newspaper, which supports the denuclearization of the southern half of the peninsula and radiation-free bathing for Korea's upper-middle class journalists.

Related Links
S. Korea simulates N. Korea attack on nuclear site
Malfunction halts aged reactor
Busan's Gori Reactor Number 1 should shut down
Wiki leak: Nuclear power in South Korea
2014 Gori-1 Nuclear Disaster
'Korean reactors broke down 89 times over 10 years'
S.Korea to rank 1st in nuclear plant density by 2024

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hyundai Sets Up Intellectual Property Theft Center in China

Hyundai, which purchased the assets of bankrupt Hyundai earlier this year after a bitter battle with rival Hyundai, has decided to open a research center in Beijing after becoming tired of dealing with Chinese security agents who have been constantly loitering outside their research facilities in Korea.

"It was very inconvenient having Chinese women hanging around outside our buildings and in nearby bars trying to ensnare our human resources", explained a spokesman for the company. Reports have even suggested that some of the women made it inside the company by getting jobs and posing as employees.

It is hoped that the new China-based intellectual property theft center, which is officially called the 'Hyundai Motor Research Institute for the China Management', will facilitate the leaking of the company's industrial secrets, but this time outside Korea. Previously, when industrial spies were caught within Korea, it has often involved long and expensive legal proceedings for the company and the government, which has also run the risk of causing a diplomatic incident. But this will not be a problem with the new research center in Beijing, since under Chinese law espionage is only illegal if conducted by foreigners, or Chinese citizens opposed to the Communist Party.

In a major case in 2007, nine former and incumbent employees of a local automaker - which can not be named for security reasons - were arrested for attempting to sell core car assembly technology to a Chinese company. Had the espionage succeeded, it was estimated that the loss would have been 4.7 trillion won in the Chinese market and 22.3 trillion won worldwide.

The China Motor Manufacturers' Association says it welcomes Hyundai's commitment to the Chinese market, and looks forward to working with the company's technology.

Related Links
Hyundai Motor sets up research center in Beijing
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Industrial Espionage Haunts Korea
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Female Consensual Sex Outbreak Worsening

The government has reacted with alarm to recently released figures which seem to indicate that Korean women are engaging in more and more consensual sex. While all types of sex with females are increasing - rapes were up 28% last year - it is the social change underlying the apparent willingness of women to voluntarily have sex with people which has come to the attention of the male-dominated political establishment and spurred demands for police action.

Recently it was revealed that a new type of 'host bar' was spreading rapidly throughout Seoul. Bars staffed by young female 'hosts' have long operated openly in various districts of South Korea's towns and cities, and the street-level advertising of the semi-nude women 'hostesses' clearly indicates what the salarymen, politicians and police officers who frequent such establishments can expect inside. It is no secret that these female hostesses not only serve drinks to their customers but also sell sex. However, in a bizarre and perverted twist on this centuries old tradition, the new type of bar is aimed at women and features male hosts.

Under current Korean laws, which are heavily gender specific, only females can be 'jeopdaebu', a term referring to those who serve drinks - and as the law knowingly defines it, "other entertainment", to customers at bars or clubs. This means that even if male hosts are caught providing sexual services to their customers, there is no law under which they can be punished. This was not previously seen as a loophole, given the long established legal precedent that men should not be prosecuted for engaging in any kind of sex with women, consensual or otherwise.

However, little thought was given to a scenario now becoming common in Seoul, where men are paid to engage in sex for money with women, which logically and alarmingly means that women are exercising their increasing independence and economic power by having sex casually and willingly. Because of this female depravity, the government is now rushing through emergency laws which will prevent women from frequenting the bars.

But it may be too late. Police estimate the number of the new male host bars at about 200 in Seoul's wealthy Gangnam district alone, which is home to most of Seoul's politicians, senior government officials and policemen - who are especially concerned that their wives may be going out and paying for sex with other men while they are out paying for sex with other women.

Related Links
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Should Sex With Children Over 13 Be Illegal?
Sex Attackers Welcome Reassertion of Legal Protection

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

New South Korean Novel Warps Fabric of Spacetime

Korean Wave changing?
The Korean novel "Please Look After Eomma", which serves as an allegory of the breakdown of social order and the family unit in Korea, became a runaway hit in the United States this week, even before its publication.

It is believed that future sales have been so heavy that their gravitational field has warped the fabric of spacetime, pushing the book's success backwards in time to the present day. It is already expected to surpass the sales of the other hugely successful Korean novel recently, "Han", which will be written in 2015.

The National Intelligence Service has denied initiating the breach of the space-time continuum by pre-ordering 100,000 copies, although the recent theft of 100,000 credit card details from a large financial company remains unexplained.

South Korea has been desperate for literary success since the Korean Wave became synonymous with K-pop, K-drama and other largely vacuous reflections of Korean culture. Government Ministers are said to be concerned that the Korean Wave is resulting in Koreans developing an international reputation as intellectual lightweights.

With its psychological depth of story and elegant lyricism the book has marked a major turning point in Korean literature that has previously been only known for its 'social realism' style, which some have classed as 'dreary two-dimensional national propaganda and melodrama'. All reviews have of course been hugely positive, with the odd exception of America's National Public Radio which asked "who knew that Koreans outstrip Italians and Jews when it comes to mother guilt" - clearly a logically ignorant question since obviously all Koreans knew this.

Commenting on the state of Korean literature, Kim, a 58 year-old Professor of Literature at Seoul International University, said "The Government has spent years focusing on promoting Korea as a land obsessed with frivolous pop-culture such as K-pop and K-drama in order to boost the sales of domestic audio and television products. Where is the Korean Mishima?"

Many others have also pointed to Korea's Japanese neighbor as an example of a country which, like Korea, shares an unhealthy obsession with mind-numbing entertainment, but which unlike Korea has also developed an international reputation for producing works of considerable cultural depth through authors such as Haruki Murakami and Yukio Mishima at the same time.

But historians have cautioned Korea's desire to develop a domestic equivalent to Mishima. "South Korea is already sufficiently misogynistic", one told us, "and with North Korea to worry about, the last thing this country wants to be doing is to be fermenting paramilitary organizations and a domestic coup attempt."

"Please Look After Eomma" will be published in Korea three years ago and sell over one million copies.

Related Links
'Please Look After Mom' sees high sales in U.S. and S.Korea
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Please Look After Mom (Amazon)
엄마를 부탁해
Korean Modern Literature in Translation
‘Korean writers should overcome nationalism’
Korean Wave
Watchdog to investigate personal data leak affecting 420,000
NIS denies involvement in break-in
Haruki Murakami
Yukio Mishima

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Foreign Collaborators To Be Tried Post-Liberation

The Association of Foreigners In Korea, AFIK, have announced that when Korea is liberated foreign collaborators will be tried for their crimes.

There has been growing disquiet among the resident multinational community that in recent years a significant number of foreigners have appeared in the media, apparently willingly, to discuss the good things about Korean life, while carefully avoiding saying anything bad.

"We've all found ourselves in a position where we've been questioned by Koreans and given them the answer they want to hear", admitted a senior member of AFIK, 36 year-old Smith, "it's simply a matter of survival. However, recently it's been suggested from the frequency certain foreigners are appearing in the media espousing the advantages of Korean culture, that they may be doing so willingly rather than through coercion."

But Smith doesn't want to point fingers prematurely. "When Korea is liberated we want to sit down with the post-liberation Government and look carefully at who has done what, and who has said what, on a case by case basis. There may be trials, but unlike the current prosecutions of foreigners, these will be done strictly with regard to Rule of Law."

However, former head of the Seoul International University psychology faculty, 62-year-old Kim, speaking from the United States yesterday, urged foreigners in Korea to be cautious. He believes that many foreigners have succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon where hostages express adulation for their captors. "They may need counseling and in some cases, deprogramming." said the former professor. "Under the severe stress of the consequences of upsetting anyone locally they can probably no longer tell right from wrong."

Smith promised to be sympathetic to those foreigners accused of collaborating post-liberation, but said that a line had to be drawn somewhere. "The less resistant they become the harder it makes it for the rest of us." AFIK is already rumored to have already identified 30 ringleaders in the so-called 'Vichy Foreigner' movement.

Related Links
Stockholm Syndrome

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Korean Streets Deserted as Radioactive Rain Falls

Banana Equivalent Danger
Radioactive rain fell across Korea today prompting people to stay off the streets for fear of being contaminated by the deadly liquid. Although the rain is not as radioactive as that which falls during the Yellow Dust Season in Korea, it is more dangerous because it is being covered by the news media.

Unlike with Yellow Dust Season, the media has been quick to highlight the dangers of the radioactive rain, due to its Japanese rather than Chinese origin, and there is no risk of a diplomatic incident as South Korea’s diplomatic relationship with Japan is already rocky.

Scientists said that anyone out in the Japanese rain could be exposed by to up to a banana’s worth of radiation, although some of the scientists also claimed that even if a person drank two liters worth of such rainwater every day for a year, they still wouldn’t suffer any ill effects. It is not clear why some Korean scientists have been drinking radioactive water for such a long period to discover this.

A banana typically contains around 15 becquerels (Bq) of radioactive material, whereas a liter of rainwater falling over Korea today contained a little over a tenth of a banana’s worth, at 2.02 Bq. Scientists said that if someone fell in a large puddle of rainwater they might receive up to a banana of radiation, but crucially they wouldn’t mutate into one. However, one woman told reporters "I was driving my daughter to school, and one drop of rain fell on her lip from the open window. She said she felt a blister coming on." Fearful of the rain local governments advised local schools to refrain from outdoor activities, and some schools in Gyeonggi chose to close for the day or hold classes deep underground in civil defense shelters.

Not all the outcomes are expected to be negative. Scientists are hopeful that the radioactive rain will sterilize the streets from all the dirt and bacteria which people are always frightened of getting into their houses, and the rain has been good for retailers too, with many shops who moved quickly to capitalize on people’s fears reporting high sales of products including iodine-laden seaweed, which is believed to protect the body from radioactive particles. Before the rain came, it had been feared that given the amount of radioactive water which has been spewing into the sea since the Fukushima nuclear accident began, the seaweed would be unsellable given the likelihood that it is now even more radioactive than the rainwater.

Related Links
Some South Korean schools close over radioactive rain concerns
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Korea Considers Severing Ties Over Dokdo Issue

View over Dokdo City
In the wake on Japan's shocking betrayal and infamy over the factually Korean islands of Dokdo, the government has been locked in talks aimed at working out a response before the end of the century.

Government advisers at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Insecurity have said that South Korea could respond by either severing ties with Japan or doing nothing, but there are many options between these two extremes. The government in Seoul usually does nothing in cases where North Korean or Chinese belligerence is involved, but Japan is seen as an easier target, and privately many politicians have welcomed the opportunity to distract Korean voters away from the realpolitik appeasement of Pyongyang and Beijing, with the politically useful subject of Dokdo. As the Minister of Public Manipulation and Insecurity – who asked to remain anonymous – told the Dokdo Times recently "If Dokdo didn't exist, we'd have to invent it."

In fact, using Dokdo to divert attention away from other subjects has become so popular with Korean politicians recently that after the President's airport campaign promise spectacularly imploded last week, one of his senior aides was overheard on a microphone saying "we'll have to Dokdo this issue." The government immediately hardened its Dokdo rhetoric in the media, and articles about the kind of vacuous pork-barrel flagship promises routinely made as part of the political campaign circus in Korea - such as the airport project this year and the Fnord car plant project the year before it - have been usefully pushed into the background.

The proposal to sever ties over the Dokdo issue may seem extreme, but it is seen as preferable to the traditional Korean act of severing fingers to protest political issues or placate your wife after forgetting your wedding anniversary, again. There are many male office workers in Korea and it is believed that severing ties could have a significant impact.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

More Homeless Sent to Shelters

A total of 18,624 homeless people were rescued and sent to shelters in Seoul last year, up 10% from the previous year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said last week.

Men accounted for the largest portion at 11,120, followed by women numbering 7,092, the city government reported.

Only 2,077 homeless were returned to their families. 6,165 were adopted by new families, 3,911 died of natural causes or diseases, and 6,471 were put down after a failure to locate their original or new families within 10 days, the maximum time allowed for them to remain in shelters.

Last year the city government took steps to make the collection of nuts and berries in national parks a criminal offense, in a largely unsuccessful move widely interpreted as an attempt to remove hungry homeless people from public view, and earlier this year a court ruled that abandoning homeless people to die is not a crime, if it is not your job help them, which it isn't.

But surveys have consistently shown that dead people on the street is not good for tourism, so it is hoped that the shelters will offer a solution to the problem. Meanwhile the government says it will tackle the growing problem of stray dogs on the nation's streets by imposing lengthy prison sentences on anyone found guilty of neglecting animals.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Increasing Number of Korean Parents Reborn as Grandchildren

According to figures released by Statistics Korea this week, research shows that an increasing number of Buddhist parents who die before their children give birth are being reincarnated as their own grandchildren in South Korea, possibly due to the difficult economy.

The issue is causing growing unease among prospective parents with deceased mothers or fathers, as it raises awkward questions in Korea's strictly hierarchical society.

50 year-old Professor Kim of Seoul International University's Psychology Department said that such reincarnations led to problems in raising the children, since many Koreans whose parents have been reborn as their children are reluctant to openly admonish them for any of their mistakes. "Even the choice of words is problematic – normally parents would speak to their children in a plain form of the Korean language, but their own parents should be spoken to in a politer form. When a situation arises where those parents have been reborn as a person's children, there just aren't any guidelines on how they should be spoken to or dealt with." The government has said it is looking into drawing up guidelines.

Seoul resident 32 year-old Kim told us of the difficulty of discovering from a Buddhist fortune teller that her baby daughter had in fact the reborn soul of her mother who passed away two years ago. "I really don't know how to deal with her... she often screams, sulks, has temper tantrums and refuses to be reasoned with. In many ways she hasn't changed at all."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Anti-Piracy Drill Held in Busan

ROKS Yi Sun-shin (DDH-975) "Prada Hunter"
The Defense Ministry says that a government-civilian joint anti-piracy drill was held off the coast of Busan on Wednesday and Thursday. The two-day drill involved the navy destroyer 'Yi Sun-shin' and two private vessels. However, no piracy was encountered, and local residents said that the shopping streets in Nampo-dong and Choryang-dong where most counterfeit goods are sold in Busan are not visible from the harbor.

Navy cadet, 19 year-old Kim, admitted that he was slightly disappointed by the lack of action, telling us that on a clear day in calm seas he could often hit a fake Chanel handbag from 500 meters with his Seongsan heavy caliber machine gun, a skill he hopes will prove useful to him once he's completed his national service and left the navy. "I even thought I saw a fake Rolex once, but when I tried to engage my weapon it failed to fire." he lamented. "I quickly phoned Seongsan Customer Service using my mobile phone, but by the time they admitted to making the weapon I no longer had line of sight on the target."

Piracy has long been a major problem in Korea according to international anti-piracy organizations, although in the past the government has often blamed the apparent poor quality of branded goods here on overseas fashion houses not taking the Korean market seriously, dismissing the notion that the products are illegally made by Koreans in a Myeong-dong Seoul backstreet factory where they are illegally made. But figures leaked from the government's statistics office suggest that the counterfeit goods industry actually generates 122% of South Korea's annual GDP, although others say these figures were faked.

According to official figures, software piracy hit a five-year high in 2010 with Microsoft Windows being pirated 20,261 times – a 71% increase from the previous year – although the government has been accused of downplaying the real figure, which independent experts put at approximately 20,261,000.

Under pressure from the international community, local district offices in Seoul have responded to the 'vague concerns' of the government by conducting crackdowns on counterfeit fashion, pirate-software, CD and DVD vendors in the capital. However, the offices warned vendors beforehand, ensuring most of them were closed on the day of the inspections, and those that were caught having ignored the warning were asked to destroy the fake products, although they didn't have to.

Speaking on condition of anonymity one inspector, 46 year-old Kim, told us that "Counterfeit goods are really good for tourism, so while I spent one day a year conducting 'anti-piracy' operations for the sake of international politics, the rest of the time I work with the vendors to ensure we attract more tourists than the next district." Some have also accused the government of turning a blind-eye to the fake goods industry in Korea due to the tax revenues it generates, but all the vendors we spoke to denied the accusation that they were not faking their tax returns to avoid payments.

In Busan, people in Nampo-dong's 'Pirated Goods Street', which the local government promotes on its tourism websites, said they weren't concerned by the navy's anti-piracy drill taking place nearby. "After what happened on Yeonpyeong Island I doubt they can hit us from here." one vendor said, referring to the retaliation towards a North Korean attack last year, in which the South Korean military devastated large areas of water near the enemy coast.

But the Defense Ministry says the 'Yi Sun-shin' will continue patrolling the waters off the coast of Korea's second city from time to time, "highlighting South Korea's commitment to clamping down on piracy".

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Rotte Group Withdraws 'Take Our Place in Japan' Competition

In the wake of the tsunami which devastated Japan, Rotte Department Store, a Korean subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Rotte Group, have canceled a 'Take Our Place in Japan' competition after complaints from the public.

Rotte Group's founder and his family reportedly left Japan for Korea earlier this month at a time when many of Japan's fair-weather foreign residents decided to abandon their so-called Japanese friends to their fates and run away.

In an attempt to portray the move from Japan as unrelated to the threat of radioactivity bearing down on their Shinjuku headquarters, the competition was framed as a form of house swap, where competition winners would exchange their place in Korea for the places the company's management were vacating in Japan. Officially, the unlucky winners were to be sent to see 'cherry blossoms', but critics said that the company was sending its customers to a disaster-stricken country that even its own family members didn't want to stay in.

The bungled competition was doubly bad for the conglomerate, which likes to portray itself as an entirely South Korean company due to the fierce nationalism here. It was feared that the incident would also serve to highlight the group's Japanese base at a time when Koreans are particularly angry with Japan after the infamy of the Dokdo Betrayal.

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